This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", September 17, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Katrina brought out the worst in racial politics, as we go beyond the Beltway.

Whether it’s rapper Kanye West (search) saying that President Bush, "doesn’t care about blacks," or Jesse Jackson (search) likening black evacuees to slaves, or John Edwards reviving his "two Americas" theme, Hurricane Katrina is exacerbating the racial divide.

Here’s President Bush acknowledging that the poorest were the most affected by the storm.


PRESIDENT BUSH: This poverty has roots in generations of segregation and discrimination that closed many doors of opportunity. As we clear away the debris of a hurricane, let us also clear away the legacy of inequality.


KONDRACKE: A new Gallup poll showed that 60 percent of blacks think that the fact that most hurricane victims were black was one major reason why the relief efforts were slow. And 86 percent of whites disagree with that. And when asked if looters in New Orleans were criminals or just desperate people, 77 percent of blacks said that they were desperate, and 50 percent of whites called them criminals.

Now, I think you’ve got, you, when you look at this, you got to remember that Ray Nagin (search), the mayor of New Orleans, is black. Now, did he leave those God-forsaken people in the Superdome to suffer and the Convention Center because he hates his own people? I don’t think so. I think it was incompetence.

And similarly, Governor Blanco (search) of Louisiana, who is a Democrat, did she not get the National Guard there to help rescue them on time, because, because she’s anti-black? I don’t think so. I think it was again incompetence.

And similarly with the, with FEMA fumbling around with all this paperwork. I think it’s incompetence. And to say that this is racist is pure demagoguery.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Of course it’s pure demagoguery. And there’s a name for this, Mort, it is called playing the race card, where there’s not some racial angle there, it’s producing a racial angle. And it works; it’s had its effect. It has divided blacks from whites in how they view the whole Katrina thing, which is a big event in American life.

Now, Democrats and liberals and people like Jesse Jackson have been doing this stuff for years. You remember that ad in 2000 against Bush where it linked him to a racist killing of a black man. The card has been used against Bush before, against Ronald Reagan (search), against John Ashcroft and people like that, and the problem is, it does actually work, this divide is not naturally there, as I think you pointed out. I mean, did Ray Nagin not bring out all those school buses to take the 25,000 people out who were at the Convention Center and the Superdome because he was a racist, because he was indifferent to the condition of blacks? Of course not.

KONDRACKE: Yes. I mean, look, those people were there in those places because they were poor and they couldn’t afford cars.


KONDRACKE: Twelve-point-five percent of the country is poor below the poverty line.

BARNES: Yes, yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: But 33 percent of all the people in New Orleans in poverty, that’s partly because it’s a dysfunctional city that hasn’t developed a modern Sun Belt economy.

BARNES: Yes, the poverty line measure is one that’s a phony. I’ll explain that to you later. OK.

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